Across one April: The first month of Yankees baseball
We’ve had an entire month of baseball. Some teams, like the Texas Rangers, are red hot. Others, like the Angels of whatever area of Southern California they’re saying they’re in this year, are ice cold. The Yankees fit somewhere in the middle of those two teams. While there’s still a lot of baseball to be played, here are some observations about the Bombers after their first month of play.
The boys can still hit. Doesn’t matter what ballpark they are in, the Yankees continue to crush the ball. They lead the majors in home runs (37) and are third in RBIs (116) and runs (120). They are also second in on-base percentage (.350). This is all with a slumping Robinson Cano and middling Mark Teixeira. As the temperatures continue to heat up, so will the Yankees’ bats, which is a terrifying thought if you’re an opposing pitcher.
The pitching is not the strength everyone thought it would be in the offseason. The Yankees made some key acquisitions during the offseason. Bringing back Freddy Garcia, who performed very well for them in 2011, signing Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal and trading top prospect Jesus Montero to Seattle for young righty Michael Pineda. Garcia has been abysmal and was demoted to the bullpen (not really sure how his bloated ERA and wimpy fastball are going to help them out there). Pineda is out for the season with shoulder surgery. Kuroda, after a so-so start, has looked good his last few outings. But Phil Hughes continues to baffle with his inability to finish off hitters even when he gets ahead of them. Hughes has fans wondering if he’ll ever be the 2010 version again. Andy Pettitte returned from retirement and is waiting in the wings, tuning up in the minor leagues, but even he is not dominating. If the rotation doesn’t improve soon, it could be time to start testing out some of the pitching prospects.
The bullpen is one of the best in the majors. On the flipside, the bullpen is the reason the Yankees have been able to remain so competitive. Setup man David Robertson has yet to allow a run, earned or otherwise, and his control looks better than last year. Rafael Soriano has been solid. New guys such as Cory Wade and David Phelps have emerged as viable and trusted options (so much so that Phelps is taking Garcia’s spot in the starting rotation). And, of course, Mo is Mo (even with that blown save against Tampa to start the season). The downside: The bullpen has been used too much. The starters are going to have to start stepping up and getting through at least seven innings or the workload is going to burn out the relief pitchers down the stretch.
The Yankees look great in throwback uniforms. I loved seeing the Yankees in their 1912 Highlanders throwback unis at Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary celebration almost as much as I loved seeing them beat the Red Sox on their special day. The Yankee uniform hasn’t changed too much over the years, but enough that seeing its evolution from the early years was great fun. My guess is that most of the players in 1912 were not 6′-5″ behemoths. Also the stirrups accompanying the uniform were a little lackluster as you could barely see the red stripes; however, it was amusing seeing which players pulled off the look best (Curtis Granderson and Robertson) and who looked a tad out of place (Derek Jeter and Teixeira).